King, 14, stands next to her painting titled "Sanctity" during
the Soul Of Nations art showing on March 2 at the Navajo Nation
Museum. (photo by Ravonelle Yazzie - Navajo Times)
WINDOW ROCK Maiyah King was just a toddler when she first
started drawing with her grandmother.
"She always wanted me to draw elephants," said Lori Wilson,
her grandmother. "I don't know how many thousands of elephants I
drew. But as a two-year-old she got into drawing. We would draw
for hours on end."
Today, Maiyah, 14, still draws but has moved from crayons to
acrylic paint. Her artistic skills are now taking her to New York
City for a weeklong artist in residency program at one of the most
prestigious art schools in the country, New York University's Tisch
School of the Arts.
This is thanks to her most recent, untitled painting that she
entered in the Soul of Nations' 2018 Brea Foley Art Program. The
theme for this year was "Honor the Earth."
"I really wanted to emphasize environmental justice," Maiyah
said about her piece. "We see it every day here on Navajoland: How
our land is exploited and as Indigenous people we often don't have
She was one of three selected to participate in the artist in
residency program. This year the Soul of Nations received over 200
submissions from Native American students in New Mexico, Arizona
and southern Colorado. From these, 13 finalists were selected, but
the judges would only pick three to go to New York.
"I'm really excited," Maiyah said. "Going to such a big city
and getting to go for such a cool type of program, I'm just excited
to see all the different things there."
Maiyah has continued to grow in her artistic skills because
art has brought her solace in times of adversity.
"It's therapeutic," Maiyah said. "Growing up as Native youth
we often have our strengths and our troubles. It really helps me
get out all of that. It's really gotten me through hard times."
She is currently a freshman at Sandia High School in Albuquerque.
She is originally from Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. Alongside painting,
she is also a spoken word poet and a long-distance runner.
This is the second competition for which the young artist has
submitted a piece. In her last art competition, she earned a first-place
Her skill as a painter comes as no surprise to her mother, Lyn
Wilson-King, who has watched her daughter grow from drawing horizons
with crayons to award-winning paintings.
"We kind of knew that eventually she would probably become an
artist," Wilson-King said. "And here she is flourishing and blooming.
We're very proud of her."
Wilson-King and her husband have always been supportive of their
"Just in general, our family is very artistic," she said. "In
the way of musicians and artists."
So there was no hesitation when their daughter asked to have
more art supplies. They make sure to keep her cupboard well stocked
with whatever medium she is currently using.
"The biggest thing that makes me proud of her coming this far
with her art is that she really brings attention to a lot of issues
that she is seeing around her," Wilson-King said. "You'll notice
in her painting that she's addressed the (Gold King) mine spill
The other two winners were Bailey Pete, from Miyamura High School
in Gallup, and Christine Garcia from Captial High School in Santa
Fe, New Mexico.
This is the third year that Soul of Nations has offered this
Soul of Nations is a nonprofit dedicated to helping Native American
youth through business creativity, academic excellence and engaging
them through the arts. Information: www.soulofnations.org
Soul of Nations is a for-purpose organization established to uplift
the vast amounts of displaced Indigenous communities throughout
the Americas. Established in 2015, Soul of Nations has dedicated
majority of its efforts in supporting Indigenous youth through inspiring
business creativity, encouraging academic excellence, and engagement
in the arts.